Oak and 7th Street Zendos
Spring Practice Period
March 27 to May 29, 2021
With pleasure and anticipation I invite you to join with Jennifer Block and I for the 2021 Spring Practice
Period . Practice Period (or Ango), is a special span of time in which Zen practitioners are invited and
encouraged to intensify their commitment to Buddhist practice. It is also a time when newcomers are able
to experience Zen teachings through the strength of shared community intention and mutual support.
Although we will participate virtually over Zoom, there will be occasions when some of us will be able to
gather safely, in person.
About Practice Period
Historically, Practice Periods were rainy season retreats for monastics and lay people. For the last 2,500
years, intensive training periods have been common in many schools of Buddhism.
We, at Oak Street Zendo in San Francisco & 7th Street Zendo in Boise Idaho continue this tradition.
Each year in the spirit of those in monastic practice, we bring dharma practice to the foreground of
our lives. We focus on everyday activity: (relationships, work, and regular sitting). Practice Period is also a
time of increased community connection, when we have the opportunity to bear witness to each other’s lives
and our shared experience of living and working together.
Our theme for this year will be : “ Way Seeking Mind: The Path to Our Original Self” . It is our good
fortune to have encountered the Dharma, to have access to teachers, and to have a desire to practice. And
having set out on the path – whether we’ve been practicing for years or are just beginners – how do we keep
our aspiration fresh and alive?
A Buddhist Practice Period features a student who serves as Shuso, (Head Student), sharing responsibility
and assisting me in supporting our Practice. In addition to full participation in the practice schedule, the
Shuso gives several talks and hosts small group gatherings.
This year’s Shuso is Jennifer Block. She has been practicing with Oak Street Zendo for many years
and with Everyday Zen since 2008. Jennifer received her Dharma name (Kanshin Doshin) (Generous
Spirit-Path of Trust) from Norman Fischer in 2012.
There are a variety of ways to engage with our Practice Period. Participants commit to a schedule which fits
their circumstances, attempting to include as many of the sittings, gatherings and ceremonies as practical.
One's involvement should be balanced: supportive of your practice and others, without being burdensome.
During this time you might choose to add more periods of zazen meditation to your week or make a
commitment to attend several of the offered retreats and teas. Taking on a new practice relationship, or
meeting more regularly in practice discussion with the teacher would also be appropriate. Ultimately we
each should decide how we might deepen our commitment. Being clear about this will allow you to receive
the benefits of the practice period, rather than experience it as additional demand or burden.
Regardless of how busy you think you are, I encourage you to join us and participate as completely as your
life and practice allow.
All are welcome
We value the flexibility and freshness of the beginner’s mind in Zen practice. If you are new to Zen (or
meditation practice in general) and are looking for a supportive way to enter Buddhist practice, we invite
you to participate. We encourage & invite diversity.
Practice Period Activities
Opening Ceremony & Retreat: Practice Period starts with a Half Day Meditation retreat
and opening ceremony on Saturday March 27th, from 8:30am to 1:30 Pacific Time.
Group Meditation (Zazen): Our regular morning and evening zazen schedule will continue over
Zoom. Currently we sit together at 6 AM on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings, and 7 PM on
Monday and Thursday evenings (Pacific Time.) There will be introductions to the forms of sitting Zazen
and Zendo practice.
Half Day Sitting Retreats : We will have 3 retreat Half Day Sittings over the course of the Practice
Period, each retreat day includes 5 periods of Zazen and walking meditation. An invitation and schedule will
be distributed prior to each Half Day Sitting. The schedule also includes a Dharma Talk and conversation,
noon service, lunch break and a closing service. All Practice Period members are strongly encouraged to
attend these retreats, which will include key ceremonies and group participation to support the community
and our practice.
Tuesday Night Study Group : This weekly event begins with a short meditation period, followed by
reading and discussion. The text during Practice Period is: What is Zen? Plain Talk for a Beginner's
Mind by Norman Fischer and Sue Moon.
Shuso Talks : The Shuso will give two formal talks. The first will be a traditional Way Seeking Mind
Talk . The second talk will consider the challenges of aspiration and keeping our practice fresh and
Tea with the Shuso : Participants are invited to attend tea in small groups with the Shuso, to discuss
practice and get to know each other more deeply. The first in the Bay area will be at the Golden Gate
Park Arboretum, the other times: to be determined.
Practice Partners : A sangha partner is a person with whom you speak on the phone or in person
several times during the Practice Period. Your request for a specific person will be considered, but
partners will be determined by myself and Shuso.
Closing Retreat & Ceremony : Practice Period ends with a half day sitting and a Shuso Ceremony on
Saturday May 29th. This traditional ceremony allows the Shuso to respond to questions from
Practice Period participants and invited guests, in an exchange known as dharma dialogue.
Calendar of Events
March 27 Half Day Retreat & PP Opening Ceremony
Wed, Fri, Sun 6am Morning Zazen Meditation
Mon, Thursday 7pm Evening Zazen Meditation
Tuesdays 7pm Text Study Class
April 7 10am Tea with the Shuso: Arboretum in San Francisco
April 24 Half Day Retreat Including First Shuso Talk
Date TBD Second Shuso Talk
May 29 Half Day Retreat & PP Closing Ceremony
May 29 PP Closing Circle
Once you have decided to participate, please enroll by filling out the Practice Period Commitment Form (see form below) . We ask you to put in writing your intentions and let us know what activities you plan to attend.
By making your commitment explicit, putting it in your calendar and showing up, you are honoring
something sacred within yourself. The deadline for joining the Practice Period and submitting your form is
March 26th. Please respond in time.
There is no fee for joining the Practice Period. However, it is appropriate for those who join the Practice
Period to send a donation, given what you can afford.
Thank you very much,
Peter van der Sterre
& Jennifer Block
Oak and 7th Street Zendos